Lost Opportunity

AKC GAZETTE December 2019
Cardigan Welsh Corgi Breed Column

The national specialty is always a great place to watch and listen. The conversations that take place among those who consistently produce outstanding examples of the breed can be extremely informative. The foundation of the entire conformation program is for the selection of those animals that exhibit the very best qualities for the breed and its intended purpose. In essence, you are reviewing breeding stock that will be used to perpetuate the breed, with some assurance that the high quality will be maintained—or better yet, improved upon. Why does such-and-such always have such competitive dogs in the show ring? Seems their latest progeny is always better than the last superstar they campaigned. Yet others are one-hit wonders. They have a great dog who moves likes a dream and has that dynamic silhouette we all hope for in the whelping box. There is a lesson to be learned here.

While interviewing two of the top Cardigan breeders in the U.S., it was discovered that they shared the exact same lesson to be learned when it comes to the career of their specials bitch. Both of these examples excelled in the show ring, with multiple history-making wins across the country and at the famed Westminster show

When you are consistently winning, it is easy to want to ride that wave for as long as you can. It is a wonderful feeling and a credit to your breeding program. Nevertheless, perhaps those Best in Show ribbons are blinding you as to what the foundation of conformation shows stand for. You have gained the championship title on your incredible bitch and immediately start her out as a special. She wins and regularly places first in the group. The excitement builds, and you maintain the grind of showing, grooming, magazine ads, and all those things that go along with a solid campaign. Before you know it, your cute little bitch is now 5 years old. You have not considered a proper mate, and she now is nearing the end of productive breeding age. Therefore, if you do breed her and the results are not what you had hoped for, you now may not have another opportunity. Procedure says you skip a season before breeding again, and now you have a 6-year-old bitch. The chances are reduced further for a good breeding—and quite often if it does take, the litters are small.

Both of these well-respected breeders voiced that given the opportunity to go back to the beginning, they would have bred their bitch at a much earlier age. Not only would this allow you to consider other suitable matings and possibly produce higher-quality offspring, but the residual effects of breeding your bitch can be highly beneficial in the show ring as well. Having pups can improve the overall conformation by adding girth to the rib cage, depth of chest, and overall maturity.

So if you were to follow this advice, you may now be sitting with a 6-year-old, fully mature bitch who has produced a couple of litters of nice pups who are promising in their own right, and she is now ready to be very competitive in the show ring, with no regrets as to having not bred her before now.

We tend to rush things when the ribbons come easily and forget the true nature of this competitive sport. A 5- or 6-year-old bitch has plenty of years ahead of her to garner those Best in Show ribbons, and breeding that topquality bitch earlier in her life rather than later helps to ensure that future generations will be improved upon. Do not be guilty of lost opportunity

-David L. Anthony 

First published in the AKC Gazette Digital Edition, December 2019.

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